The narcissist “hedges his bets” by placing a side bet on his own fallibility, weakness, deficiencies and proneness to err.. How do you reconcile the two?
It is intended to either aggrandise the narcissist or to protect his grandiosity from scrutiny and possible erosion. He attempts to dazzle his surroundings with apparent “brilliance” and to put possible critics on the defence. He sails through them powered by shallow acquaintance with rapidly acquired verbal and behavioural vocabularies (which he then promptly proceeds to forget). But the aim has, thus, been achieved: the Narcissistic Supply has been doled out and avidly consumed. He was the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.
False modesty is only one of a series of feigned behaviours. In this sense, narcissists are really modest.
Sam Vaknin (samvak.tripod.com) is the author of Malignant Self Love – Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain – How the West Lost the East.
The “modesty” displayed by narcissists is false. He served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, Global Politician, PopMatters, eBookWeb , and Bellaonline, and as a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent.
Beneath all this he is shallow, ignorant, improvising, and fearful of being exposed as deceitful. Despite the narcissist’s protestations, he feels much better now.
Visit Sam’s Web site at samvak.tripod.com.
Devoid of systematic and methodical education, the narcissist tries to make do with pompous, or aggressive mannerisms, bombastic announcements, and the unnecessary and wrong usage of professional jargon. By contrasting his own self-deprecation with a brilliant, dazzling display of ingenuity, wit, intellect, knowledge, or beauty the narcissist aims to secure an adoring, admiring, approving, or applauding protestation from the listener.
This is a horrible feeling to endure and a taxing, onerous way to live. He glosses over complicated subjects and situations in life. He is ever possessed by the fear that he is really a petty crook about to be unearthed and reviled by society.
The narcissist publicly chastises himself for being unfit, unworthy, lacking, not trained and not (formally) schooled, not objective, cognisant of his own shortcomings and vain. His whole existence is a derivative of a False Self, his deceitful invention and its reflections. It is mostly and merely verbal. The narcissist is a conjurer of verbosity, using sleight of mouth rather than sleight of hand. It is couched in flourishing phrases, emphasised to absurdity, repeated unnecessarily usually to the point of causing gross inconvenience to the listener. This way, if (or, rather, when) exposed he could always say: “But I told you so in the first place, haven’t I?” False modesty is, thus an insurance policy. One of the more efficacious defence mechanisms is false modesty.
I met many narcissists who are modest even self-effacing. This was not his intention, he assures his interlocutor. The narcissist is a pathological liar, either implicitly or explicitly. No narcissist will ever admit to it. He really does not deserve the praise. The real aim of such behaviour and its subtext are exactly the opposite of common modesty.
The person to whom the falsely modest statement is addressed is expected to vehemently deny the narcissist’s claims: “But, really, you are more of an expert than you say!”, or “Why did you tell me that you are unable to do (this or that)? Truly, you are very gifted!” “Don’t put yourself down so much – you are a generous man!”
Yet another function is to extract Narcissistic Supply from the listener. With false modesty he seeks to involve others in his mind games, to co-opt them, to force them to collaborate while making ultimate use of social conventions of conduct. The narcissist has to protect himself from his own premonitions, from his internal semipternal trial, his guilt, shame, and anxiety. Such modest outbursts precede inflated, grandiosity-laden statements made by the narcissist and pertaining to fields of human knowledge and activity in which he is sorely lacking.
The narcissist, above all, is a shrewd manipulator, well-acquainted with human nature and its fault lines.
The narcissist then shrugs, smirks, blushes and moves uncomfortably from side to side.
The narcissist is a dilettante and a charlatan. He did not mean to fish for compliments (exactly what he did mean to do). This seems to conflict with your observations
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